Access to clean water and improved sanitation and waste management remain some of the most pressing environmental challenges for Tajikistan according to the second Environmental Performance Review of Tajikistan published today. The Review, performed by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), takes stock of progress made by the country in the management of its environment since the country was first reviewed in 2004.
The Review covers 10 issues of importance to the country related to policymaking, planning and implementation, the financing of environmental policies, climate change, water management, waste management, human health and the environment and biodiversity conservation. It notes a series of improvements, including significant changes to the legal and policy framework in the area of the environment, as well as challenges that the country is still facing.
Tajikistan has abundant water resources. However, due to institutional weaknesses as well as inadequate funding and outdated infrastructure in the water sector, there are multiple challenges in the use and protection of water resources. Only one third of Tajikistan’s 7.2 million inhabitants have access to chlorinated piped water. Some 30% rely on spring water and the remainder of the population depend on river and ditch water sources. Only 5% of the population are connected to public sewerage. The functioning of the water supply and sewerage systems is, moreover, frequently interrupted by power outages, which is also a source of water contamination. Frequent power cuts limit water supply to a few hours per day. Although there has been an overall improvement since 2004 in the quality of drinking water, 15% of samples do not meet bacteriological standards today.
Waste management has been receiving more attention since 2004. Nevertheless, today municipal solid waste collection services are only provided for the urban population, which represents about 26% of the total population. Waste disposal practices require urgent improvement as even in the capital, Dushanbe, the city’s single disposal site does not meet sanitary norms and standards.
Tailing ponds from mining activities also pose a threat to human health in the country. Approximately 54.8 million tons of waste from past uranium mining operations are still located in unsecured sites in northern Tajikistan, a number of them close to Khujand, the country's second-largest city.
The Review concludes with a set of 47 recommendations to the country to improve management of its environment, to better integrate the goals of sustainable development into sectoral policies, to promote greater accountability to the public and to strengthen cooperation with the international community. The recommendations were approved by the UNECE Committee on Environmental Policy.
The Review is available at: http://www.unece.org/env/epr/publications.html
Note to editors
In 1993, at the Second “Environment for Europe” Ministerial Conference, ministers requested UNECE to undertake Environmental Performance Reviews in countries that were not Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development members. By 2004, the first cycle of Reviews was completed (with the exception of Turkmenistan). UNECE is now finalizing the second round of reviews, taking stock of the progress made since the first review, and putting particular emphasis on implementation, integration, financing and the socio-economic interface with the environment.
At the seventh “Environment for Europe” Ministerial Conference in Astana in September 2011, ministers invited UNECE to conduct the third cycle of EPRs, which may additionally look at environmental governance and financing in a green economy context, countries’ cooperation with the international community and environmental mainstreaming in priority sectors.
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